Like the old saying goes, “March came in like a lamb and therefore is expected to go out like a lion.” And with that, the risk of basement flooding is much higher.
With warmer temperatures in the Omaha metro, the combination of snow melting and frozen ground thawing might lead to basement flooding if your home’s sump pump is not working properly. Unfortunately, many people don’t even think about their sump pump until an emergency has already happened.
Like any appliance or system in your home, it should be inspected regularly to be sure it is in working order. Below is a checklist of our recommendations for you to complete to ensure it’s operational. If there are any issues found from this checklist, we suggest you call your plumber to check it out, and if necessary, remedy the problem or repair the unit.
A home sump pump is an electric water pump used to remove water that accumulates in a water-collecting “sump basin,” most oftentimes found in a property’s basement. Excess water can sometimes enter through the outside drains of a basement waterproofing system, channeling down into the basin or in some cases because of rain or quickly melting snow.
Sump pumps are used where basement flooding has happened and sometimes to solve dampness in cases where the water table is above the home’s foundation. Sump pumps divert water away from the property to where it is no longer a problem. This could be a nearby municipal storm drain or a dry well.
Follow these steps to ensure your pump is operational and ready to keep your home’s lowest level dry and safe:
- Clean the Screen.
Start by unplugging the pump from the electrical power supply. Disconnect it from the discharge pipe, then lift the pump up and out of the sump. Clear away and spray away any debris that has accumulated on the screen at the pump’s base. Then wipe down and rinse off the housing. If required, lubricate the pump bearings. (Consult your unit’s owner’s manual to be certain.)
- Inspect the Check Valve.
If the pump’s internal flap doesn’t easily swing free, flush it out with fresh water. If you find mineral deposits, soak it in vinegar. When reconnecting it back to the discharge pipe, be sure the arrow points upwards.
- Test the Unit’s Float Switch.
To test that the automatic switch kicks on when water enters the sump, pour a few gallons of water into the sump. If it automatically kicks on and sucks out the water, the floater switch (and pump) are operating properly. If not, contact your plumber to repair or replace the switch.
- Check Your Outlet.
Building codes require that all sump pumps must only be plugged in to a GFCI receptacle. This is the type of outlet with a built-in circuit breaker which will shut it off if it becomes wet. For your safety, check it by pressing its test and reset buttons.
- Battery Backup
It’s a good idea to consider having an uninterrupted power supply in case you lose power to your home when you need the sump pump. If you already have a backup battery, see if it’s the type of unit that needs to have its cells full. If it is, and the cells are low, fill them with distilled water, as needed.
A sump pump is a small investment for a home that could face serious water issues from high ground water level, or the possibility of melting ice and snow, or our very common heavy rain storms Nebraska and Iowa face each year. If you don’t have a sump pump, but have experienced water in your basement (or just want peace of mind), call A & A Plumbing & Drain Services at (402) 932-3899 to assess your situation and give you an estimate.